The City of Montreal saw a sharp increase in the number of restaurants and grocery stores cited for breaking food safety regulations last year.
In 2016, 645 cases were opened against restaurants, grocery stores and other food vendors for unsanitary conditions — a 47 per cent increase compared to 2015.
The city also saw an increase in the number of establishments ordered to temporarily close to get back up to code.
A total of 145 businesses received the order in 2016, an increase of 28 per cent compared to 2015.
More than 3,400 food samples were taken by City of Montreal inspectors in 2016. The top four foods that came back with results that did not conform with safety standards were:
- Meat or fish tartare.
- Cooked chicken.
Myrta Mantzavrakos, the head of Montreal's food inspection department, said there's not a growing number of unsanitary establishments. She attributes the increase to their filing system catching up with a backlog.
"It doesn't mean that we're opening files more often," said Mantzavrakos. "We had a little delay in when they were filed, now it's being cleared and it has increased all of a sudden."
She added that, now when they open a file, they are treated faster. For example, an inspector will issue a fine immediately while out in the field, which means it will decrease the time before it makes its way through municipal court.
About two per cent of establishments are considered being in a critical or chronic state according to the city's guidelines.
Mantzavrakos said problems in these establishments can range from infestations of vermin, such as rats, cockroaches and mice, to having no appliances working properly.
If found to have such a serious problem, they will be forced to close immediately.
Complaints, reports from customers increased
The number of customers who came forward to report or complain to the city about conditions in an establishment increased in 2016. There were 1999 complaints and 648 reports made last year – an increase of 14 percent compared to 2015.
Mantzavrakos said there are some areas in the city that can be problematic.
"We have neighbourhoods where we have a challenge, sometimes caused by a language barrier, we have trouble getting our message across," she said, pointing to areas like Parc-Extension, Saint-Laurent, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Côte-des-Neiges, Chinatown and Verdun.
"But, in these neighbourhoods, we also have excellent restaurants, impeccable.
Most cited establishments
The 15 establishments with the most citations from the City of Montreal in 2016 are:
- Cristal Chinois, Saint-Laurent Boulevard (10 citations).
- Buffet La Stanza, Jean-Talon Street East (7).
- Klondike, Sainte-Anne Street (6).
- Les aliments Kim Phat, Goyer Street (5).
- Restaurant Ethan, de la Gauchetière Street West (5).
- Pâtisserie Jong Ro, Harley Avenue (5).
- Super marché Tropic, André-Ampère Avenue (5).
- Saint-Jean Bagel, Saint-Jean Boulevard (5).
- Traiteur Oineg, Saint-Viateur Street West (4).
- Wok Café, Sainte-Catherine Street West (4).
- Supermarché international Darlington, Darlington Avenue (4).
- Restaurant Le BBQ doré, Jean-Talon Street East (4).
- Marché Lumy, Ogilvy Avenue (4).
- Restaurant Beijing inc., de la Gauchetière Street West (4).
- Chez Khady, Décarie Boulevard (4).